Seymour Hersh: The US attacked Syria knowing sarin wasn’t used in “gas attack”

In an earlier post, I documented my disgust with President Trump when he launched Tomahawk missiles against Syrian targets, in apparent retaliation of Syria’s use of sarin gas in an attack.

However, Seymour Hersh reports that while the American intelligence community knew that the Syrian did not use chemical weapons in general, and sarin particular, in the attack in question, Trump ordered the bombing anyways.

On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives.

Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

Hersh’s article is lengthy, and is worth reading in its entirety. However, the jist of the article is clear and, frankly, shocking.

 

Demonizing opponents isn’t for Democrats anymore

Now that any sense of narrative about Trump making America GREAT AGAIN has fallen apart with each new explosion in the greater Middle East, Trump supporters are trying to do something, anything to support the twilight of his administration first 100 days.

To wit, Trump Cheerleader Captain Bill Mitchell is simultaneously exploding with delight over Trump’s MOAB attack

while attempting to demonize the part of Trump’s base that won’t mindlessly believe his every word, especially with regard to Syria.

What has been absolutely beautiful about Trump’s base is that, while it has its share of syncophants like Mitchell, it includes many people who think for themselves.

Of course, I couldn’t help but comment.

I really need to find a new hobby.

 

BREAKING: US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

According to The Independent:

The US has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in the country’s arsenal on an area of eastern Afghanistan known to be populated by Islamic State militants.

The Pentagon said the strike was the first time the 21,000lb weapon had been used in combat operations.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Defence confirmed to The Independent that a MC-130 aircraft dropped a GBU-43 bomb at 7pm local time.

The weapon is known in the US Air Force by its nickname MOAB, or “mother of all bombs”. MOAB stands for massive ordinance air blast.

The Independent understands Donald Trump authorised the use of the bomb but commander of the US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson signed off the order.

The President and Pentagon officials were aware of the mission ahead of time.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the US had used a “large, powerful and accurately-delivered weapon” to disrupt the movements of Isis in the country.

Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said the bomb was dropped on a cave complex believed to be used by Isis fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar, close to the border with Pakistan.

The Pentagon said the mission had been in the planning stages for months. However, they “did not have the information” on whether the mission was being planned during the previous Obama administration.

Little Boy, which was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, had 15 kilo-tonnes of TNT. The GBU-43 has 11.

Aside from “Dear God, may You have mercy on our souls”, I don’t have many coherent reactions to this. However, I do have the following thoughts:

  • The last time someone said “mother of all” anything, that regime fell.
  • This action shows the US military’s intellectual bankruptcy in dealing with its adversaries in the greater Middle East.
  • I wonder if the bomb’s name, MOAB, has any ironic reference to the city of Moab that existed during Biblical times.
  • Even with the magnitude of the bomb’s destructive capacity, I really wonder how much this reduces ISIS’s control in eastern Afghanistan. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if their support in the area increases.

I’m sure there will be more to come on this story.

 

The New York Times is Run by Mealy-Mouthed Weasels

The New York Times hit a new low today. Its main headline proclaimed “Russia Often Benefits When WikiLeaks Reveals Secrets“. When a reader clicks the headline’s link on the NYT’s website, the result is this:

Assange

 

This is pure and simple character assasination. The story does not say that Julian Assange is a Russian agent. In fact, its sub-headline confirms as much. However, the story oozes the implication that Assange, willingly or unwillingly, does work that benefits Russia.

The propagandists who pose as reporters wonder why Assange is so upset with the United States yet does not go out of his way to criticize Russia:

From the cramped confines of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum four years ago amid a legal imbroglio, Mr. Assange proffered a vision of America as superbully: a nation that has achieved imperial power by proclaiming allegiance to principles of human rights while deploying its military-intelligence apparatus in “pincer” formation to “push” countries into doing its bidding, and punishing people like him who dare to speak the truth.

Notably absent from Mr. Assange’s analysis, however, was criticism of another world power, Russia, or its president, Vladimir V. Putin, who has hardly lived up to WikiLeaks’ ideal of transparency. Mr. Putin’s government has cracked down hard on dissent — spying on, jailing, and, critics charge, sometimes assassinating opponents while consolidating control over the news media and internet. If Mr. Assange appreciated the irony of the moment — denouncing censorship in an interview on Russia Today, the Kremlin-controlled English-language propaganda channel — it was not readily apparent.

Aside from the fact that it is not true that Assange has not criticized Russia, perhaps Assange may not be a fan of the United States not only because of its foreign policy, but also because of unhinged statements American politicians have made about Assange in the past.

However, what the progagandist – I’m sorry, reporters – want you to think is that there is some nefarious connection between Assange and Russia, which has been resurrected  as America’s main enemy.

The fact that the New York Times has engaged in psychological warfare so nakedly shows how far it has fallen from any pretensions that it is a newspaper of record.

One question that naturally arises is why would the Times engage in this now? My guess is that the Times wants to innoculate the American public from any potentially damaging disclosure Wikileaks may make regarding Hillary Clinton. After all, if Assange and Russia are linked, why should we believe anything he says about Hillary?

The impact of this very risky move remains to be seen. Something tells me, however, that Americans may not react to it in a manner the Times hope.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Memebuster no. 10: You bombed Pearl Harbor, so we nuked Hiroshima

Because a surprise attack on a military base justifies destroying two cities.

Pearl harbor

There have been several memes in “conservative” Facebook-land that have a similar theme. And yet, James Bradley demonstrates in The Imperial Cruise that the Japanese learned about the value of the surprise attack by the Americans.

Further, it ought to be clear by now that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not militarily necessary. As John Denson, a brilliant revisionist historian, writes in The Hiroshima Myth, the Japanese were willing to surrender as early as May of 1945, provided that the emperor remained in power.

So why did the US bomb Hiroshima? According to Denson:

The conclusion drawn unmistakably from the evidence presented, is that [James] Byrnes is the man who convinced Truman to keep the unconditional surrender policy and not accept Japan’s surrender so that the bombs could actually be dropped thereby demonstrating to the Russians that America had a new forceful leader in place, a “new sheriff in Dodge” who, unlike Roosevelt, was going to be tough with the Russians on foreign policy and that the Russians needed to “back off” during what would become known as the “Cold War.” A secondary reason was that Congress would now be told about why they had made the secret appropriation to a Manhattan Project and the huge expenditure would be justified by showing that not only did the bombs work but that they would bring the war to an end, make the Russians back off and enable America to become the most powerful military force in the world.

If the surrender by the Japanese had been accepted between May and the end of July of 1945 and the Emperor had been left in place, as in fact he was after the bombing, this would have kept Russia out of the war. Russia agreed at Yalta to come into the Japanese war three months after Germany surrendered. In fact, Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945 and Russia announced on August 8, (exactly three months thereafter) that it was abandoning its neutrality policy with Japan and entering the war. Russia’s entry into the war for six days allowed them to gain tremendous power and influence in China, Korea, and other key areas of Asia. The Japanese were deathly afraid of Communism and if the Potsdam Proclamation had indicated that America would accept the conditional surrender allowing the Emperor to remain in place and informed the Japanese that Russia would enter the war if they did not surrender, then this would surely have assured a quick Japanese surrender.

In other words, Truman dropped the bomb because, among other reasons, he wanted to be in a strong negotiating position with Russia after the war ended. Pearl Harbor had nothing to do with it. As a result, countless innocent people sufferred.

Now can we apologize?

 

If Obama didn’t go to Hiroshima to apologize…

then why the hell did he go?

President Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on Friday, telling an audience that included survivors ofAmerica’s atomic bombing in 1945 that technology as devastating as nuclear arms demands a “moral revolution.”

“Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us,” Mr. Obama said, adding that such technology “requires a moral revolution as well.”

I’m used to Obama’s highfalooting claptrap supporting more government. I’m willng to suffer through it if he actually provided an apology.

For weeks, the White House had refused to say whether Mr. Obama, the first sitting American president to make the trip, would meet survivors. It was a delicate decision. Many survivors long for an apology for an event that destroyed just about everyone and everything they knew, and there were small demonstrations near the ceremony on Friday by protesters demanding an apology. But Mr. Obama said before his trip that he would not apologize for the attack.

One of the benefits of leading the world’s superpower is never having to say you’re sorry.

CNN provides some background behind Obama’s wanting to visit the city:

President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima Friday is a trip more than six years in the making by a man who has sought to recognize history without being what he has called “imprisoned” by it.

From its conception, the visit — a first by a sitting president — has been fraught with the struggle to show empathy for the massive death and destruction caused by American military might without appearing to apologize for what many historians consider necessary action that resulted in the saving of lives.
Necessary action my ass.
Rather trying to balance between two irreconcilable positions, it would have been better for Obama to have either choosen to apologize for or defended the bombing, or have done nothing at all.

I have no idea how this looks to anyone living outside of the U.S. My suspicion is that it can’t be good.

Millions of Muslims are becoming Christian

The National Catholic Reporter has a fascinating essay about the recent increase of Muslims converting to Christianity. Researchers estimate that there were between 5 million and 16 million “Muslim Background Believers” in 2010. In the US, it is estimated that 20,000 Muslims convert to Christianity a year.

Dudley Woodley, a Fulbright scholar of Islam, published five primary reasons why Muslims are drawn to Christianity, based on interview with 750 MBBs:

  •  The lifestyle of Christians. Former Muslims cited the love that Christians exhibited in their relationships with non-Christians and their treatment of women as equals.
  •  The power of God in answered prayers and healing. The Jesus portrayed in the Quran is a prophet who heals lepers and the blind and raises the dead. Often, dreams or visions about Jesus or a man of light were reported. (Some also have dreams of the Bible or of the Virgin Mary, who is revered within Islam.)
  •  Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced. In his article “How ISIS Is Spreading the Gospel,” David Cashin of the Zwemer Center observes, “I have often referred to Islamic radicals as ‘proto-evangelists’ for the Christian faith.”
  •  The spiritual truth in the Bible. Muslims are generally taught that the Torah, Psalms and the Gospels are from God, but that they became corrupted. These Christian converts said, however, that the truth of God found in Scripture became compelling for them and key to their understanding of God’s character.
  •  Biblical teachings about the love of God. In the Quran, God’s love is conditional, but God’s love for all people in the Bible was especially eye-opening for Muslims. These converts were moved by the love expressed through the life and teachings of Jesus.

As exciting as it is to see Muslims convert to Christianity, I confess that my excitement is tempered because those who have converted have had to live through hell because of the U.S.’s insane foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The U.S.’s counter-terrorism policies in the region in general, and its policy of regime change in Libya and Syria in particular, has caused untold suffering among countless innocent people. Those policies are the key drivers behind the refuguee crisis swarming Europe. Further, the U.S.’s indirect support of ISIS has caused unnecessary havoc within eastern Syria and western Iraq. But for our involvement there, many of those who have converted would have lived far less traumatic lives.

And yet.

It is indeed hopeful to see new blood in the Christian faith. The article shows many MBB’s continuing to have peaceful relationships with Muslims in their communities. They do so “as a witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ”.

That is beautiful.

May we Christians learn from them, and always act as witnesses to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet.